South Tyneside scout leader honoured for 60 years of service

Tommy Cleveland
Tommy Cleveland

A youngster who was caught messing about outside a Scout hut in South Tyneside 70 years ago has been honoured for his services to the movement.

Little did Tommy Cleveland know – as a 10-year-old boy – he would one day be awarded with one of the Scouting Movement’s rarest accolades.

Tommy Cleveland with his scout group

Tommy Cleveland with his scout group

A special meeting was organised at the headquarters of the 22nd Brownsea Scouts in Whiteleas, South Shields, where he was presented with his 60-year certificate by district commissioner Shelagh Robson.

Mr Cleveland, 80, from South Shields, said: “I was 10 years old when I first joined. It was just after the war. A few of us were messing about outside the Scout hut, the leader came out and said why don’t you come in?

“We did and enjoyed it, I’ve been here ever since. We were the first group to go abroad from the area after the war.

“Staying on as leader was my way of giving something back. Without the Scouts I wouldn’t be where I am now or experienced what I have.”

Staying on as leader, it was my way of giving something back, as without the scouts I wouldn’t be where I am now.

Tommy Cleveland

The retired community education officer with South Tyneside Council, who is also a chartered engineer, became a leader during the 50s and says he has seen many changes over the decades.

He added: “I know it’s important, but health and safety has caused a lot of the changes. In my day, 14-year-olds would be taking youngsters away to camp. You’d do open-fire cooking. There are a lot of things I did that would be a big no,no now.”

Mrs Robson, said: “It is such a rare certificate to be presented with. There are not many people who have received this certficate.”

David Stokes, county commissioner, said: “To volunteer in a single role for 35 years plus is amazing. But to come in as a child and go through the various groups then become a volunteer with the organisation is incredible.”